Halloween candy: Is it worth it?

Before you reach for another piece, consider how much exercise it will take to burn off those calories.
© Self // © Self

Starbursts

8 pieces = 160 calories
They may be flavored with real fruit juice, but these chewy candies are mostly just corn syrup and hydrogenated oils—AKA sugar and fat. Because of that, one or two pieces isn't likely to satisfy your hunger. Since each Starburst square is 20 calories, to burn off a recommended serving of eight pieces, you'd have to do about 50 minutes of Pilates.

1 of 11 Courtesy of Wrigley

York Peppermint Patties

3 miniatures = 150 calories
They may be a low-fat food, as their package claims, but each miniature Peppermint Pattie still contains about 50 calories. "The dark chocolate on the outside isn't so bad, but that creamy filling is all sugar," says Karen Congro, R.D., C.D.N., director of the Wellness for Life Program at The Brooklyn Hospital Center. "It's easy to overdo it when you think it's a healthier choice." To burn off a serving size of three pieces, you'd need to do about 17 minutes of biking at a moderate (12 to 14 mph) pace.

2 of 11 Courtesy of Hershey's

Brach's Candy Corn

19 pieces = 140 calories
For every kernel of this addictive Halloween treat you pop, think about tacking on an additional minute to your tennis game. That means 19 extra minutes of play to burn off the suggested serving size of 19 pieces. Of course, that's not even taking into consideration the fact that the body won't burn 140 calories of pure sugar as effectively as it would a balanced 140 calories of protein and fats, says Congro.

3 of 11 Courtesy of Ferrara USA

Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins

2 cups = 350 calories
The seasonal, Jack-o-lantern-shaped version of this PB and chocolate staple is larger (and more caloric) than the plain old circles sold year-round—350 calories in a "King Size" pack of two, versus just 210 for one. Eat them both and you'll need to run about 33 minutes at a 10-minutes-per-mile pace to cancel them out. "Candies with nuts or peanut butter have more protein, so they may satisfy you a bit more—but they'll also have more fat and still plenty of sugar, so you shouldn't really think of them as healthy options," says New York-based dietitian Rachel Meltzer Warren, R.D.N, author of The Smart Girl's Guide to Going Vegetarian.

4 of 11 Courtesy of Hershey's

Caramel apples

1 apple = about 250 to 350 calories
It depends how thick you pour on the caramel coating and whether it's dipped in extras like nuts or sprinkles, says Congro, but most caramel apples will run you about 300 calories or more. (An apple itself is about 100, but the real damage comes from the sugary extras.) To burn it off, you're looking at about 40 minutes of moderate effort—no breaks!—on the rowing machine at the gym. Try not to think of caramel apples as one of your daily servings of produce, says Meltzer Warren; just enjoy them for the sweet treat that they are, and get your eight-a-day elsewhere.

5 of 11 Courtesy of Romulo

Hershey's Milk Chocolate

3 snack size bars = 190 calories
The iconic candy bar is sold in a smaller "snack size" great for trick-or-treaters, but that won't necessarily stop you from eating more than one. Perhaps that's why the suggested serving size is three bars, or 190 calories—a snack that will take about 59 minutes of light to moderate weight lifting to burn off. If your Halloween spoils include larger chocolate bars (or lots and lots of miniature ones), avoid overindulging by helping yourself to a small portion—and then putting the rest out of reach. "Instead of leaving the candy where you can mindlessly munch all day, move it to an area where you actually have to get up and make an effort to serve yourself," says Meltzer Warren. "You'll eat less, and enjoy the candy you do eat more."

6 of 11 Courtesy of Hershey's

Smarties

1 roll = 25 calories
They seem so small and harmless—and sure, an entire roll of Smarties is only 25 calories. But they're little more than pure sugar (6 grams, or a sugar cube and a half each), and it's easy to eat several packs without batting an eyelash. Just keep in mind the crash that's sure to follow your fleeting energy high—or the fact that for each roll, you'd have to tread water for six minutes to burn off those calories.

7 of 11 Courtesy of Smarties

Snickers

2 fun-size bars = 160 calories
Gooey caramel and peanuts make Snickers one of the most caloric candy bars, ounce for ounce. Two fun-size bars—somewhere between miniature and full-size—will run you 160 calories, or 22 minutes of vigorous Vinyasa yoga. Even though 160 calories is about right for a between-meal snack, candy shouldn't be your go-to. "Eating right is about so much more than calories; it's about getting the right vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help your body thrive," says Meltzer Warren. "It's okay to have a treat once in a while, but you don't want to miss out on too many opportunities to nourish your body by choosing candy over whole foods like fruits and nuts."

8 of 11 Courtesy of Snickers

Tootsie Rolls

6 pieces = 140 calories
Each tiny Tootsie Roll (they're called "midgees") is about 23 calories—that goes for both the chocolate and fruit flavors. It may only take seconds to devour the recommended serving size of six pieces, but you'll need 40 minutes of moderate walking (at 3 miles per hour, or a 20-minutes-per-mile pace) to burn them off.

9 of 11 Courtesy of Tootsie Rolls

Skittles

1 package (61 g) = 250 calories
What will it really cost you to "taste the rainbow"? If you eat an entire pack of Skittles, about 27 minutes of step aerobics using a 6- to 8-inch step. (Each individual candy contains about 4 calories, but who stops at just one?) A much better way to snack on a wide variety of colors is to stick mainly to whole fruits like berries, grapes, cut-up melon and even raisins, says Congro, and enjoy the fruit-flavored stuff as an occasional treat.

10 of 11 Courtesy of Skittles